Sep 152014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA1059 2005-03-07 08:13 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001059



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2015

Classified By: (U) Political Officer Paul O’Friel
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. Defense Secretary Cruz has made Philippine
Defense Reform (PDR) the centerpiece of his tenure, and is
also focused on ending the country’s multiple insurgencies
within the first six years of the 18-year PDR program. His
new approaches include the “500 barangay” program, which will
enlist civilian agencies in the counterinsurgency effort.
According to Cruz’s Chief of Staff, PDR will be high on the
Philippine Defense Secretary’s agenda during his upcoming
trips to Australia and New Zealand. END SUMMARY.


¶2. (C) According to Brigadier General Lamberto “Bert” Sillona
(ret.), Secretary of National Defense Avelino Cruz’s Chief
of Staff, Cruz plans a series of meetings with Department of
National Defense (DND) personnel beginning March 7 to ensure
the entire Department understands and is on board with PDR
objectives. Sillona told poloff that Cruz views PDR as the
centerpiece of his mandate as Defense Secretary, and its
success (or failure) will be the defining criterion of his
own tenure.

¶3. (C) Admitting that many of the personnel and
organizational reforms proposed by PDR, such as a fixed
tenure for the Chief of Staff and service chiefs and reducing
the number of Philippine Army divisions, would require new
legislation, Sillona said his boss was pushing the DND staff
hard to come up with a new National Defense law. A first
draft, however, failed to pass muster with the eagle-eyed
Cruz (one of the Philippines’ most able attorneys and
previously legal counsel to the President). Sillona claimed
Cruz “threw it in the trash” and directed his staff to come
up with a better effort.

¶4. (C) Sillona commented that PDR will be high on the agenda
during Cruz’s planned April 2005 visits to Canberra and
Wellington, where he intends to solicit Australian and New
Zealand support for PDR. He separately also plans to enlist
Japanese backing for the effort.


¶5. (C) Sillona stated Cruz wants within the first six years
of the 18-year PDR effort “to finish” the insurgencies
plaguing the Philippines. According to Sillona, Cruz had
directed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff
General Efren Abu to come up with a concrete list of the
equipment he needs to combat the insurgencies. Cruz told Abu
to work with an projected budget of 5 billion pesos
(approximately USD92.5 million) per year, but also instructed
the Chief of Staff to come up with possible funding sources,
e.g., new taxes or sale of excess military property.

¶6. (C) Sillona also described Cruz’s intention to develop a
more holistic approach to counterinsurgency. He noted that
the “500 barangay (precinct)” program would identify
communities located primarily in areas controlled by the
Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army and
develop them as models of what the GRP can do for its
citizens. AFP engineering, civil affairs, and medical
outreach efforts would be coordinated and in sync with
concurrent efforts by the Department of Public Works and
Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Social Welfare and
Development (DSWD). Sillona related how Cruz had asked DPWH
to furnish a map of planned road construction over the next
five years. Cruz then sought the advice of General on which
are the key roads and subsequently intervened personally with
President Arroyo to get DPWH to readjust its priorities to
meet counterinsurgency needs. (Note: The DND will brief
donors on the “500 barangay” program at the World
Bank-chaired donors’ coordination group March 7-8. End Note.)

¶7. (C) COMMENT. Cruz reportedly told the Canadian
Ambassador during a recent courtesy call that he was
interested in only “boots and bullets,” disappointing
Canadian attempts to flog high-ticket weapons. Thus far in
his short tenure, Cruz seems to have focused on the right
priorities, and appears well served by his earlier role in
privatizing the moribund Philippine telecommunications
industry in the 1990’s. Taking a leaf out of a MBA textbook,
he has established an agenda and is now in the process of
reorienting the leviathan and often hide-bound Philippine
military to his way of thinking. While canny and articulate
and with excellent access to his President, Cruz will also
need some luck and strong support from us to see PDR through.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified website: cfm



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